Social media tools gaining ground in elections: report

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Social media tools gaining ground in elections: report

Published on March 30 2011


For candidates in a municipal election, being an incumbent seems to offer more of an advantage than social media tools – at least for now.
This information was highlighted today with the release of the latest policy brief of the Niagara Community Observatory at Brock University.
The NCO brief, titled “The Use of Social Media in the 2010 Niagara Municipal Election,” showed that while a little more than one-third of candidates in the analysis used some form of social media, the usage of these tools was not found to be statistically significant in determining the electoral success of candidates.
The same analysis, however, shows that of the candidates studied, 91 per cent of incumbents were re-elected.
Author Doug Hagar, a research assistant at the Niagara Community Observatory, noted that the use of social media tools may not have an impact in the outcome because senior citizens, who are more likely to vote than their younger counterparts, as less technologically savvy, and potentially less likely to use social media platforms when deciding on their vote. However, recent surveys have shown Baby Boomers and seniors are increasingly tapping into the interactivity of social media, maintaining some sort of online profile.
The NCO data will therefore offer a valuable baseline for measurement of social media use and interactivity in future municipal elections.
Highlights of the eight-page report include:
·      the sample analyzed included all mayoral candidates for the 12 municipalities, and a random sample of candidates for regional council and all municipal councils, for a total of 105 candidates
·      35 per cent of candidates surveyed had a website; 26 per cent had a Facebook profile; 10 per cent used Twitter; and 8 per cent used YouTube
·      Hagar devised and employed an interactivity scale for social media tools, and found that on average, social media platform interactivity scored a little less than 2 on a scale of 1 to 5
·      incumbents who used Facebook and websites were elected at significantly higher proportions than challengers
·      candidates using two or more social media platforms were elected at a 60 per cent success rate
The full report is available online at www.brocku.ca/nco
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For more information:
David Siegel, Niagara Community Observatory Director, 905-688-5550, x3481; dsiegel@brocku.ca

Doug Hagar, Research Assistant, dhagar@brocku.ca     

NCO policy brief 9 first page

The Niagara Community Observatory has released its ninth policy brief.